When indoor dining was shut down not once, but twice in 2020, we had a lot of time to reflect on what we loved and missed about restaurants. Our list was long. Even when they couldn’t welcome us into dining rooms, restaurant owners and hospitality workers stepped up to do what they do best: provide respite from the often challenging world in which we find ourselves, offering a transportive bite, a smile (even if it was hidden behind a mask) and a reminder that a love of good food is something we can all share.
Through 2021, restaurants have continued to adapt to changing rules and conditions. While some closed for good, others learned new tricks, and still more eateries joined the scene. (To be eligible for Eat Here, a restaurant must have opened by Labor Day 2021.) Over the past year, tables both inside and out on those adapted patios have buzzed with conversation, a reminder that sharing a meal at an old favorite or trying a new spot is about much more than just what’s on the menu. It’s about connection, comfort and community, and that’s exactly what you’ll find at these 100 metro Denver restaurants that we can’t live without. — Molly Martin